Checkered Past: Super DIRT Week

Syracuse 1974 was the biggest road trip in my eleven-year life. Dad dispatched us to bed to rise before dawn for the four-hour pilgrimage up I-81. Bob was happy at Reading, but his brother had hit pits of the first two modified classics on New York State Fairgrounds. “It’s the New Langhorne,” George Eckert declared.

Langhorne, PA was The Big Left Turn, a circular mile where speeds exceeded every AAA/USAC horse track like Syracuse, Springfield, DuQuoin or Indianapolis. Champ Cars generally hit The Horn in June. Autumn at Langhorne was reserved for modified stocks from ten states and Canada. It was called National Open before Williams Grove had one and became Race of Champions at Trenton and Pocono after Langhorne Speedway closed in 1971.

Glenn Donnelly’s first Syracuse 100 in 1972 was perfect timing. East Coast modified racers wanted another end-of-season culmination and The Moody Mile on Lake Onondaga filled the void. Donnelly followed Race of Champions anticipation through select qualifying races. Few college graduates choose careers in auto racing, but Donnelly was different. He secured a lease on NYS then built an empire at Weedsport, Rolling Wheels, Canandaigua and every track in DIRT of New York eventually. He incorporated as Drivers Independent Race Tracks in 1976.

To many modified fans “Langhorne” was synonymous with Big Party. People camped in its infield to stage all sorts of shenanigans. No party however, could match Syracuse for space. No other party ever sanctioned such a grand example of hijinx like The Ghetto of NYS. I again credit Uncle George for showing his brother just why people camp in cold. It was Big Fun!

Modifieds were merely one class that tackled The Moody Mile, beginning with Phil Shafer’s AAA 150 win in 1924. Indianapolis 500 winners Ralph DePalma, Frank Lockhart, Ray Keech, Wilbur Shaw, Bill Cummings, Mauri Rose, Johnnie Parsons and Bob Sweikert all won at New York State Fair before AAA folded into USAC in 1956. AAA Stock Cars stopped at NYS for wins by Sam Hanks and Jim Rathmann. NASCAR Grand National races went to Tim Flock, Buck Baker and Gwyn Staley. NASCAR Convertibles fell to Curtis Turner and Possum Jones. NASCAR Sportsman went 200 miles won by Ned Jarrett over Dutch Hoag and Bill Rafter, who won in ‘59, followed by Bill Wimble, Tom Kotary and Ralph Earnhardt. NASCAR Modified meets went to Ken Meahl and Hoag in 1963 and ‘67. USAC Sprint Cars made one NYS appearance in ‘69 when Gary Bettenhausen and Bill Puterbaugh split 50-mile wins. USAC Stock Cars made one ill-fated visit in 1970 when Butch Hartman topped Roger McCluskey in race shortened by crash.

Modifieds lost NASCAR sanction before 1968 NYS Fair date when Dutch defeated his teenage protege Lee Osborne. Don Diffendorf won ‘69 fair race over Bentley Warren. Jack Murphy was 1970 NYS winner before Diff repeated in ‘71 and Kenny Brightbill first reached NYS glory in 1972. The first Schaefer 100 in ‘72 was won by Florida legend Buzzie Reutimann over NASCAR Mod king Jerry Cook and Trevis Craft owned by Ken Brenn and piloted by Stan Ploski. Buzzie won again in ‘73 after USAC refugee Dick Tobias topped qualifying in a Mustang built by Davey Brown, who next produced the Pinto that Johnny Botz parked in NYS win circle in May 1974. Unlike most Saturday heroes, Toby had seen six dirt miles before Syracuse.

Our first look at New York State Fairgrounds was awe-inspiring. It was so big, so full of color and life. Dad pointed to the patched concession stand in turn one where Bettenhausen permanently injured his left arm and Roger Penske contract ten weeks earlier when Al Unser and Mario Andretti swept in Viceroy vehicles of Parnelli Jones.

9.29.74 Syracuse, NY: Kenny Weld (29) and Will Cagle (24)

We reached Syracuse at the same time as Kenny Weld, who had won four Knoxville Nationals in ten years. Creative genius, Kenny needed a challenge. To the dismay of competitors, he turned to making modified game changers. His first Weikert Livestock Special was ripping red, white and blue awash in gold leaf. It looked like Greg Weld’s roadster with brother’s doors. Alongside iron of the era, Weld was sleeker and propelled by aluminum 454 Chevrolet on nitrous oxide. By the time Bob Eckert’s AMC Hornet hit Syracuse, Kansas City Kenny’s AMC Gremlin had raised track record to 102. Weld would have been on pole but needed one day to dial in gasoline carburetor. In the 100-miler that included arch rival Jan Opperman, he hit elevated pit road too hot, broke a shock and retired. Billy Osmun won that shortened Schaefer 100 over “Marvelous Merv” Treichler, who thumped Osmun’s bumper when Bill alerted flagman to rain in turn three. One year later, Osmun aboard same Weld mod made an extra pit stop yet still outran everyone except Toby.

Syracuse 1975 was the first unofficial Super DIRT Week, though such a slogan was one year away. Rain on Labor Day opened Schaefer 100 weekend with 30-miler in which Merv topped Toby, who then qualified faster than 239 cars. We could not stay because Oswego Speedway held its first Syracuse satellite event. Father was fascinated by photos of the unlimited roadsters. Stepping into that steel cathedral felt like Yankee Stadium. It was cold. It was loud. It was awesome! Bill Hite’s rear-engine/four-wheel drive monster threw a tire and backed Fred Graves into wall in shower of sparks. Michigan’s Johnny Logan beat local legend Jim Shampine, Ohio’s Gary Allbritain, New England’s Don MacLaren, Canada’s Warren Coniam and Ron Wallace, who rushed north after NYS qualifying as did Shampine and Chuck Ciprich.

Syracuse ‘75 was first to include sprint cars when Jack Gunn brought 312 KARS cubic inches and 16-foot wings to Weedsport where URC champ Gary Gollub bested Bobby Allen, Kramer Williamson, Dub May, Jay Myers and NorCal legend Jimmy Boyd. Gunn got Donnelly to allow his five guys on the mile Sunday morning when Allen raised MPH mark to 106.1. Allen’s exhibition was a test for the first winged sprint race at NYS in July 1976. Kramer Williamson went 111 to defeat his boss Tobias, who then topped the modified main over Brightbill and Glenn Fitzcharles.

Toby turned the fastest lap of 1976 at 105.2 but 14 Grand became first of four Syracuse classics won by Miami’s Gary Balough. His three straight wins came in upholstered leather stitched by Asian craftsman Grant King, who migrated from Pacific Northwest to northwest Indianapolis. Brenn of New Jersey convinced King to add modified to menu of Indy Cars, Champ Cars, Sprint Cars, Midgets and side-engine supers. Balough’s first win came in Ferraiuolo King with 535 truck block on timed injection. Both were illegal in 1977 when modified motors became limited to 467.

Super DIRT Week 1976 was first to include USAC Champ Cars. The scream of A.J Watson’s four-cam Ford sobered fans for Tom Bigelow’s record lap of 112 MPH. Pancho Carter defeated “City of Syracuse” special of Bettenhausen, 1975 NYS winner Sheldon Kinser and Billy Cassella, who sealed the only USAC championship in long career of Boston Louie Seymour. In that field were New York natives Jim Hurtubise and Lee Osborne, who raced an Oswego super that night in race won by Bentley over Bob Stelter and Allbritain. Shampine, Ciprich and Wallace finished 5-6-7 after racing modifieds on same card. In a twist on track records, Warren was invited to NYS hours later to bump mark to 112.3.

Weld was back on Fourth of July 1977 with 467 modified and 427 sprint car that went 116 to vanquish Van May’s big block. In the heavies, Kenny charged to sixth behind winner Balough, Jimmy Horton and Toby, who then beat Balough on Labor Day. Tobias was fastest again in 1977 in the only modified laps not rained out. Outside pole went to Elvin Felty in Gremlin built by Toby and Kramer Williamson. Notoriously near-sighted, Dick Tobias was peerless daytime qualifier with Brown-powered Mustang II.

USAC was postponed two weeks in 1977 and enjoyed a rare sunny day for Larry Dickson’s first champ car win over Billy Vukovich and Bubby Jones, who flew to that night’s Western World final in Phoenix as did Syracuse USAC racers Eddie Leavitt, James McElreath and Junior Parkinson. Tragically, McElreath’s weekend was not done because James next flew to Winchester, ramped over Larry Moore and fatally snapped his neck.

Schaefer 100 postponed from October 1977 to April 1978 remains infamous for its 15-car debacle on oh-so-narrow backstretch. Kevin Collins broke his back. Fitz burst into flames. Tighe Scott sheared the cage right off Wayne Reutimann’s Falcon. Quite devout, Wayne cited divine intervention and ceased northern missionary work. Balough forced front row of Toby and Felty to accept second and third-place.

Donnelly moved USAC back to July when Pancho beat Bettenhausen, Billy Engelhart, grieving father Jim McElreath and Will Cagle in eighth-place. Three days later, Cagle finished fourth in NYS 30 notched by Osmun over Williamson, who drove for his fallen mentor ten days after Dick Tobias died. Sprint cars were on card and Weikert Livestock stampeded with 535 cubic inches and Paul Pitzer’s heavy boot. Osmun and Balough beat Cagle on Labor Day in sweep by Ferraiuolo King cars. Will was fastest for ‘78 Schaefer 100 but Gary won again.

Super DIRT Week 1978 was first to host Syracuse Super Nationals. Its title was more than hyperbole because Donnelly designed it as rivalry between champs of Oswego and Williams Grove. To level the table, wings were forbidden. It worked when Jim Tobin’s local roadster qualified quickest with Stelter then lost to Bentley on last lap. Lloyd sprint cars of Allen Klinger and Smokey Snellbaker were third and fourth followed by Gary Gollub, who revealed how air lifted his helmet and turned it sideways. Aerodynamics and turbulence were not terms heard in 1978. Greg Leffler and Larry Rice scored sixth and eighth in USAC 355 champ cars. Only the Copper Classic in Phoenix ever placed sprints, supers and champ cars in one race because only DIRT of New York was hard as Arizona asphalt. The 68 miles were split into twin 34-lap races with inverted start. Pitzer dropped driveshaft in front of Randy Wolfe, who survived a vicious tumble down back chute. Barry Camp and Curt Kelley (Nance 1n) crashed over Randy’s wreckage. In the second 34, Van May shed his roll cage. Donnelly exhaled and gave wings back in an act of mercy. Unbridled carnage came beneath the banner of something new called the World of Outlaws though point chasers were in NorCal.

In one busy Saturday, Ciprich of Burdett crashed an old sprint car, transferred through NYS modified B, then went to Oswego for two more divisions. We returned to see Shampine lower his record on four consecutive laps, settling at 103.78. Kempton Dates and Ciprich gave chase while Allbritain (Ed Bowley 5) and Ed Thompson took seventh and eighth in same supers that they raced on dirt hours before. Stelter and Brad Thrall (Skip Matczak 3) pulled the same two-surface stunt.

Wings were over nose and skull in ‘79 when Snellbaker beat Lynn Paxton (115.19 MPH) and Keith Kauffman to $11k. By comparison, Ron Shuman’s 1979 Knoxville Nationals victory was worth $5800. This second Syracuse Super Nationals halted to refuel at lap 32 without invert. Ploski finished fourth in Moskat Buckley that won NYS for Jim Edwards a year earlier. Bettenhausen put wings on his sprint and tried Will Cagle Gremlin. Ciprich and Steve Gioia finished first and second at Oswego after competing on dirt that day. Fulton Speedway culminated first season as dirt track with 320 Modified wins shared by Paul Lotier, who married Toby’s daughter Debbie. Super DIRT Week 1979 was first at 125 miles and first checkered by any Empire State star. He was “Jumpin’ Jack” Johnson.

Super DIRT Week 1980 was a shot heard ‘round the world. Weld was back in a big, wide way with Balough fitted into Lincoln Continental with ram air snout and side pods like Jim Hall’s Indy 500 winner. Prime Time 112 out-qualified the next modified by more than a full second. “The Orgasmatron” was assisted by Daytona 500 winner Pete Hamilton and Hall of Fame tinsnip Don Brown, who shaped its skin from his shop outside turn four of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Its record was ironic at 112.6. Gary toyed with the field. In a few hours, Balough’s Batmobile became illegal. In a few years, Prime Time went down in a hail of FBI drug arrests that would imprison Weld and Balough. But the genie was out of the bottle. Prior to Prime Time exploitation, DIRT rules on bodywork specified minimum over maximum because modifieds were short and skinny. Jail Time 112 ended the era of the chopped and channeled Vega. “Air is free,” Balough famously stated, and those humbled by him now extended doors and quarter panels. Never again would they look at rulebooks without trying to exploit what was unwritten.

World of Outlaws were back in more than name in 1980 when Kauffman kicked Weikert big block to 121.5. Steve Kinser’s first trip to Syracuse did not disappoint. He caught one car so fast that he kicked his Stanton sideways, gently nerfed the obstacle then snapped back straight as easily as stubbing a cigarette. The King left the Lloyds of Paxton and Shampine in his wake along with Toby’s second son Scott Tobias.

10.11.80 Syracuse, NY: Jim Shampine, Steve Kinser, Diane Heebner and Lynn Paxton

Super DIRT Week 1980 was the first to include 320 Modified race following World of Outlaws checkered. Initial winner was Jeff Heotzler, who raced 1974 Weld car for another decade. Super DIRT Week 1980 added 320 meet at Brewerton where Lotier led prodigy Fred Rahmer to victory. On that same night, Donnelly booked NDRA Late Models into Rolling Wheels where Rodney Combs was chased by Freddy Smith, Cagle, Dave Hess, Buck Simmons, 1975 NYS winner Gerald Chamberlain and Brightbill, who hung Camaro doors on Pinto in crude effort to match Balough. NDRA returned in 1981 for 100 laps led by Larry Moore over Lynn Geisler, southerners Smith and Simmons then local Randy Glenski. Craig Keel and Brightbill were Top Ten.

Super DIRT Week 1981 included dashes for winners of Syracuse qualifiers called CRC Winners Classics. Kinser qualified fastest in almost pitch dark. Karl Kinser skipped CRC dash so Steve split Two Grand with Doug Howells, who then split $15k with Doug Wolfgang. Horton and Tobias finished fifth and ninth in a field that featured Ed Lynch and Dave Leckonby. All four ran sprint and mod as did Osmun, Ploski, Wolfgang and Brenn Jr. Mike McLaughlin raced modifieds at Oswego and NYS within hours. NYS 1981 ended with Merv leading Lou Blaney, Brett Hearn, Osmun and Lotier in Maynard Troyer’s triumphant reaction to Weld 112.

Super DIRT Week 1982 tried to open on Thursday at Rolling Wheels with World of Outlaws postponed by four months. Rain fell on star-studded cast. Weather was dry Friday at The Wheels for 320 win by Bob McCreadie. On the mile, Troyer Engineering was unbeatable with Marvelous Merv. Sammy Swindell and Nance Speed Equipment achieved 129 MPH, won $5000 in CRC Classic then added $19,530 over Kauffman (Boop 1) and Weikert Gambler of Bobby Davis Jr.

During 1982-83 arose one colossal conflict when Lindy Vicari (who sold Reading in 1978) rebuilt Nazareth mile in a misguided effort to hurt Super DIRT Week. Full disclosure, those same four Eckerts of Syracuse 1974 were on Nazareth payroll in ‘82-83. Vicari had first failed to steal Donnelly’s lease on NYS then hustled his new mile to steal cars from Syracuse until engineers withheld certification. Donnelly knew who pledged support to Vicari and grudged accordingly when Jumpin’ Jack’s parts truck was locked out by DIRT of New York.

Super DIRT Week 1983 ran opposite Nazareth for three straight days. Modified drivers could not logistically compete on two miles on one weekend. Two sprint racers, however, raced NYS on Saturday and Nazareth on Sunday. Wolfgang won 17k over Keith Kauffman, who then flew to Naz with Tommy Sanders in Al Hamilton’s helicopter. Rahmer had slow-lapped Friday to set up Kauffman replacing Fred for Saturday B-main romp. Sunday brought Vicari’s disastrous three-wide start that mangled ten cars including Hamilton 77. No helicopter helped Van May, who locked into Nazareth through Friday qualifications. Van drove to NYS B-main to bring Kehan car from last to third to third turn concrete. Nursing a sore hand, Van took third at Naz to hometown boy Kevin Collins and rookie Frankie Kerr, who pocketed $10k. Collins competed in both classes as did Fitzcharles, Gollub, Lotier, Scott, Meme DeSantis, Chip Slocum plus URC champs Dave Kelly, Paul Rochelle and Don Kreitz Jr. Brightbill bagged $50k over Billy Pauch and Cagle. Pulling double duty on Moody Mile was Horton, Hearn, Lynch, Osborne and Shuman. Troyer factory effort placed McLaughlin outside pole before Merv lost to Alan Johnson, who earned $47k in cash and prizes.

Fourth of July 1984 was when Syracuse first raced at night. Horton (320) and Jack Johnson (467) were first winners under NYS lights. Jack won again Labor Day and Syracuse 125 as well. He patiently awaits $20k as Nazareth champ. Super DIRT Week 1984 had Lotier, Tobias, Hearn and Bobby Weaver in World of Outlaws and DIRT. Howells and Rocky Hodges hit 134.4. Swindell brothers swept first and second. They were the first Syracuse sprint racers to really trim their aero package by enclosing sides, cleaning air beneath wings and extending belly pans. Jeff replaced Sam in Nance that came to Syracuse with skirts and doors that Outlaws instantly outlawed. Jeff won 1984 NYS/Oswego Challenge Cup by earning eleventh in sole supermod of any Swindell career. On the same evening, Fulton staged sprint race won by Keel over Ohio’s Johnny Beaber, both fresh from the mile.

Bentley Warren
10.6.84 Syracuse, NY: Bentley Warren (Ed Bowley 5) Steve Koletar photo

Super DIRT Week 1985 showed best and worst of Sammy Swindell. Cliff Barcomb hired him for Show Car that Swindell promptly placed on pole at 113. In his Raymond Beadle Gambler, Sam scorched NYS at 137. After world record, Donnelly used World of Outlaws absence to start Swindell outside row three. Sam was rightfully livid. Changing rules mid-game is wrong in any sport. Sixth at Syracuse was brutal, yet Swindell showed great skill in pinning Kauffman behind Tighe Scott. Podium prizes included a long rifle by Ithaca Gun. “I should use this on the guy who started me sixth,” Swindell told the crowd. Swindells were joined in twin classes by Kinser, Tobias, Pauch, DeSantis and Fitzcharles, who raised modified mark to 115.86.

World of Outlaws outlawed Oswego supers so Super DIRT Week gave them three years of its own event, first won by local stud “Double-O Joe” Gosek over Allbritain and Gioia. Eddie Bellinger scored second to Ohio’s Gene Lee Gibson at NYS 1987 then again behind Bentley (Bowley 5) same night. Gosek beat Bentley, Gibson, Bellinger and Doug Heveron to win ISMA final at NYS.

World of Outlaws competitors looked at Syracuse with irritation. Supers were no longer in their path, but 3000 miles remained. Donnelly and Ted Johnson enjoyed a fruitful partnership that financially demanded that Ted interrupt California tour to bring his boys cross-country. Kinser kept their primary Gambler out west yet won NYS 1986 with 1985 Gambler. Karl used that same car to win NYS 1988 in front of Wolfe and Paul Lotier. Kinser prizes included IROC Camaro without tags that Steve tried to drive home to Indiana until New York troopers impounded it near Buffalo.

Super DIRT Week 1986 saw Billy Pauch perform at 320, 410 and 467 that ran second to McCreadie. Super DIRT Week 1987 enabled Pauch to become NYS winner at 320 over Horton, who joined Outlaws on mile in ‘86 then finally won his division’s ultimate prize in 1987 when it grew to 188 miles. Dave Blaney did what dad could not by winning at NYS 1987 after Sam reached 140. Kenny Brightbill, long gone in ‘74 when engine expired, added Syracuse 188 in 1988 over Horton, who ran twin classes like Blaney, Pauch and Fitz. Super DIRT Week guests of 1988 included Freddy Smith (Pete Chesson 76) and Texas drifter Gary Wright. Super DIRT Week 1989 had Blaney second to Wolfgang on Saturday and again behind Alan Johnson on Sunday. Wolfie was fastest in 1990 but second behind Superman Sam. Blaney, Kinser, Davis and Pauch filled Top Six spots. Blaney and Pauch performed in two classes. Hearn won his first 188-miler ahead of Alan Johnson, Jeff Trombley, Glenski and Lotier.

Super DIRT Week 1990 was the first to feature the World of Outlaws on Syracuse mile then Rolling Wheels that night. Only in 1980 when the World of Outlaws raced Saturday at Paragon between afternoons at Terre Haute had the premier sanction toiled twice on the same date. Karl swept The Wheels when Steve and Mark edged Sam and Doug. Outlaw irritation increased at the haste with which they were ordered out of NYS pit area. Super DIRT Week 1991 saw Swindell fastest, first over Kinser then fastest and first at The Wheels. When he returned in 1992, Sam scaled Mares Stellfox in practice and left without timing. Hearn won second straight 188 in 1991 when only Joe Gaerte did double duty.

Veteran observers regard 1992 Syracuse Super Nationals as the best lead battle in track’s near century. They thank “The Wild Child” because Jac Haudenschild hounded Kinser relentlessly, bobbing and weaving as if Luna Ford was on quarter-mile rather than a mile. The King had cut down on nicotine at behest of marathon-running wife Dana, but after playing chicken with the sport’s bravest soul, Kinser immediately grabbed a smoke from pocket of comp director Bobby Jackson. Hours later in Elbridge, Steve and Jac were second and third behind Mark Kinser.

Richard Lincoln Tobias Jr. chose “Toby Junior” as moniker before matching dad in 1992 by winning Syracuse 188. Glenn Donnelly’s son-in-law Roger Horvath ran Moody Mile at 320 and 467 then purchased sprint car that opened Super DIRT Week 1993 with Brewerton ESS accolades. Casey Luna and Ken Woodruff went one better when Blaney outran Haud’s new Pennzoil ride. Hearn won third 188 in four years.

Super DIRT Week 1994 was when Pauch pushed world record to 144.63. Davey Brown built that 410 for Zemco Speed Equipment and guided Bill to his first World of Outlaws win in last lap fight with Blaney. Next day, Pauch was ninth in 188 won by Horton over Blaney. “Billy the Kid” came to Syracuse in ‘75 for the party, rolled his truck in campground then raced home wearing his helmet and goggles because truck lacked glass. He was impounded near Binghamton. In final Syracuse Super Nationals, The King dusted Blaney, Andy Hillenburg and Haud then beat Jac at The Wheels.

10.7.95 Syracuse, NY: Dave Blaney and Ken Woodruff (Bob Yurko photo)

Super DIRT Week 1995 was first to offer Oswego wings when ISMA was conquered by Canada’s Dave McKnight for Mucci of Syracuse. Donnelly added STARS Late Models to the mile, where Ohio’s Donnie Moran was fastest at 119.2 and first over Rick Eckert. Hearn hit pole at 111.94 and won another 188 over Blaney.

Super DIRT Week 1996 was first in 11 years with no World of Outlaws. Rolling Wheels brought together ESS and URC 360 clubs when Williamson edged Outlaw refugee Keel. Moran again stopped STARS. Doug Hoffman won his first 188. Hearn handled four 358 features at Brewerton and Elbridge in ‘96-97. Kramer again excelled in Elbridge ESS/URC. Alan’s kid brother Danny Johnson enjoyed his first 188 victory in 1997 over Heotzler, Hearn and Hoffman. Empire Super Sprints defended The Wheels in 1998 when Dan Kaszubinski scored $3450 over Mike Van Dusen, who tested NYS at 320, 410 and 467. Billy Decker won 188 that stretched to 191.

Super DIRT Week 1999 put ten invited sprint cars on the mile to chase Mike Woodring, an ESS champ who became a World of Outlaw winner as car owner/chief to Erin Crocker. Woodring was in third Elbridge win by Williamson in 1999 when Brightbill lost NYS 188 to Tremont, who crewed for dad and Vermont’s Chuck Ely at Syracuse ‘74.

Super DIRT Week 2000 expanded 360 sprints to 20 miles mastered by Lance Yonge in car built by Osborne for Mal Lane, who first challenged NYS at 320 and WoO. Yonge made $5625 over Dave McGough, who was ninth in ‘93 Super Nationals. Greg Coverdale 360 reached 135. Delaware’s Becca Anderson ripped Rolling Wheels over Mike Haggenbottom, Coverdale and Woodring, who soon hired her. Decker won NYS 200 ahead of Steve Paine and Brightbill. Sean’s kid brother Curt Michael won NYS 360 event over Bill Brian Jr. Bill Sr. first came to Syracuse in ‘76 with Gollub. Wheels 2001 was won by Canada’s Rick Wilson. Decker won NYS 202 trailed by Tremont Jr.

Super DIRT Week 2002 brought back USAC Dirt Cars known as Silver Crown Series. J.J Yeley won 100-miler over Jerry Coons, who raised record to 115 MPH. J.J raced Rick Thum modified at NYS in 2002-03 when he added second Salt City 100 over Toby and field that contained Woodring and current World of Outlaw Race Director Mike Hess. Wheels 2002 went to Kyle Drum after Curt Michael ran USAC and URC on same day. Syracuse stretched 203 miles. Some ran dry of fuel. Vic Coffey did not. Wheels 2003 was won by Pete Green. NYS 200 went to Alan Johnson ahead of Tremont, Frank Cozze, Decker and Steve Poirier, a Quebec star who soon turned to sprint cars. Wheels 2004 went to coffee roaster Trevor Lewis for Fred Kennedy, who had won the same race with Becca.

Super DIRT Week 2004 brought World of Outlaws Late Models to Fulton when Dan Schlieper beat Steve Francis, Chub Frank, Dale McDowell and Scott Bloomquist. Sixth and seventh were Bart Hartman and Tim McCreadie, sons of Syracuse winners. Tim Fuller won 2004 NYS 200 and 2005 NYS 358 race. Syracuse 2005 made 40 miles before rain pushed Decker decision to November. Wheels 2006 felt The Cobra’s bite in 1993 NYS rookie Chuck Hebing, who won at The Wheels again in 2007. Danny Johnson won 2006 NYS 200 over Horton and brother A.J Slideways.

Super DIRT Week 2007 saw Hearn humble 358 fields at Brewerton and Syracuse. Coffey won another 200 in front of Fuller and Toby. Wheels 2008 went to Curt Michael over Lewis and DNQ David Gravel. Cozze’s win in 2008 NYS 200 completed a family quest dating to 1969 and Al Tasnady. Super DIRT Week 2009 put World of Outlaws back to Rolling Wheels for Tim Shaffer’s win. Jessica Zemken raced Wheels World of Outlaws and NYS 200 in 2009 when Matt Sheppard topped Tim McCreadie, Fuller, Cozze and Toby. Super DIRT Week 2010 began on Friday ESS sweep of Weedsport by ex-Outlaw regulars Randy Hannagan and Daryn Pittman pursued by Poirier, Michael and Zemken. Pittman finished fifth in the next night’s World of Outlaws win at The Wheels by The King. NYS 200 was first win by Stewart Friesen, who was destined to wed Zemken.

Super DIRT Week 2011 brought the World of Outlaws Late Models to Rolling Wheels win by Rick Eckert, brother of another mother. Two nights later, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars lost to Jason Meyers at RWR acquired by World Racing Group through purchase of DIRT of New York. Friesen won second 200 trailed by Decker. Super DIRT Week 2012 began Wednesday at Weedsport where Barefoot Bob’s boy Tim McCreadie handled Hearn at 358. Brett beat 358 cast at The Wheels and 200 shortened by rain to 113. McCreadie went 155 miles for 358 win. World of Outlaws sent two classes to Elbridge where Eckert led Late Models and Tony Stewart sprint cars crossed first and second with Kinser and Donny Schatz. Super DIRT Week 2013 saw Tuesday 100 at Rolling Wheels won by Decker. Weedsport watched Sheppard defeat Danny Johnson, who won the next night at Brewerton. NYS 358 grind stretched to 150 miles bested by Brett The Jet. Schatz roared at RWR. Edison Generator sent Davey Sammons to Outlaws then took third with Ryan Godown behind Larry Wight and NYS 200 winner Billy Dunn.

Super DIRT Week 2014 ended eleven-year absence of USAC Silver Crown. California’s Kody Swanson won NYS 78 for DePalma descendants of 1925 Syracuse AAA winner. Kody’s crew chief Bob Hampshire brought winged 410 to battle World of Outlaws at The Wheels, where Schatz (TSR) defeated Gravel and Pittman. Wight raced World of Outlaws on Saturday and NYS 200 won by Friesen over Sheppard, winner at Weedsport on Wednesday and pole sitter at 122.4. Hearn swept 358 features at Brewerton and NYS. Super DIRT Week 2015 again offered USAC and Outlaws in one day. Swanson won again trailed by Shane Cockrum and Windom, who drove for ex-Oswego racer Fred Gormly as did fifth-place Friesen. RWR saw Schatz (TSR) top Kasey Kahne cars of Brad Sweet and Pittman. Danny Johnson swept 358 features at Weedsport and Brewerton before Jimmy Phelps nailed NYS 152. Friesen netted the final NYS 200 trailed by Tremont Jr. Rained out in Elbridge, ESS postponed to Sunday when Selinsgrove champ Mark Smith milked The Cobra.

Super DIRT Week 2016 was first to center somewhere other than New York State Fairgrounds, which got flattened for horse training. Donnelly hoped to shift to multiplex yet unfinished. Keeping the classic close to Syracuse called for laying dirt over Oswego Speedway. Other arenas in Bristol, Berlin and Elko tried such experiments but none faced days of abuse by hundreds of heavy metal modifieds. World of Outlaws at Fulton went to Schatz chased by Randy’s son Lucas Wolfe in Zemco 1z. Dave Blaney and Mike Mahaney were Fulton Outlaws who ran Oswego 200 won by Friesen after Fuller beat Stew in 100-lap 358 race.

Super DIRT Week 2017 at Oswego was swept by Matt Sheppard after 150 laps at 358 then 200 more at 467. World of Outlaws at Fulton found Gravel of Connecticut first over Jason Johnson stable for which David now drives. Larry Wight was Fulton Outlaw and third in Oswego 200 behind Matt and Australia’s Peter Britten, the 2018 Oswego 358 winner over Friesen and Sheppard.

Super DIRT Week 2018 was first to credit checkered flag to Bobby Allen, who had fielded Lee Osborne in 1975 Schaefer 100. Allen’s winner at Fulton was his grandson Logan Schuchart, who edged The Wild Child’s child Sheldon. Wight was ninth as Fulton Outlaw while competing in two Oswego classes and winning 200 over Friesen and Britten. Those of us over 50 smile that Oswego DIRT is still spiked by legends Hearn, Horton and Johnson brothers.

Super DIRT Week 2019 has no Moody Mile or World of Outlaws. But that City of Syracuse spirit of versatility still flows strong. This is dedicated to Stewart Friesen’s late uncle Alex, who raced and promoted modifieds from Ransomville to Grandview. Long live The Ghetto!

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